The Demise of the Romanov Dynasty

After over three hundred years of Russian rule by the Romanov Dynasty, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated his throne in March of 1917. The Russian leader was facing popular unrest over an enormous wealth gap and then chose to thrust his nation into an expensive and bloody war against Germany. Nicholas’ rule had experienced an uprising in 1905 which persuaded him to call a supposedly representative body known as a Duma, but the Tsar’s refusal to accept any of the body’s proposals only fueled discontent among the people.… Read the rest here

L’viv Hippies and the Soviet Child

The hippies in L’viv were acting upon feelings of isolation in a modern industrial world, their perceptions of hypocrisy of Soviet Communist organizations, and a general yearning for individualism. Unlike Natalia and Gennadii, who were introduced to us in Raleigh’s “Sputnik Generation”, these hippies of the late 1960s and ’70s did not feel the same natural obligation to obey their parents and the soviet societal structure. In fact, many youths were drawn to the hippie culture by family conflicts.… Read the rest here

Sevastopol – Mythmakers

The extreme hubris of  municipal and naval officers created difficulties faced by party officials who tried to redefine the traditional Russian past of Sevastopol and conform it to a more acceptable past dictated by the central authority.  Professor Qualls argues that party members were unable to force conformity among the people of Sevastopol, at least in their traditions, and instead the city held fast to its roots to the motherland. His use of the word “mythmakers” to describe party official designated to re-invent Sevastopol’s past is absolutely applicable because they tried to do exactly that.  … Read the rest here

Circus as a metaphor for Soviet Collectiveness

The film “Circus” portrays a white American actress Marion Dixon attempting to integrate into Soviet culture while struggling to conceal the existence of her black child. After fleeing from the racial West (specifically America), Marion moves to Moscow to join the circus with her manager, who blackmails her and threatens to expose her secret. However, Marion’s career in the circus provides her with a sense of community and belonging. When her manager attempts to humiliate her, he exposes her baby to the entire audience and is shocked when the audience warmly embrace the baby and proclaim that they do not discriminate against children.… Read the rest here

Nationalism and the Soviet State

In Trey Martin’s article, “Modernization or Neo-traditionalism? Ascribed Nationality and Soviet Primordialism”, he argues that the Soviet state most clearly mirrors a neo-traditional model, primarily evident in the Soviet approach to nationality, which was initiated through industrialization. According to Ernest Gellner’s theory of nationality, industrialization destroyed village folk culture by uprooting peasantry and placing them into an urban industrial environment. This led to the formation of a new high, or shared, culture to establish a base for national identity.… Read the rest here

The workers of Manitostroi

The trouble with planning out every aspect of life is that you simply can’t. You can’t account for unexpected drought or famine or war- and especially not for the will of the individuals. Stalin and the Bolsheviks discovered this the hard way, with the implementation, and subsequent failures of their “Five Year Plan.” One of the most notable examples, Magnitostroi, is presented by Stephen Kotkin in his article, “Peopling Magnitostroi.”
The poor, the illiterate, and the exiled were all shuffled off to a desolate city, Magnitostroi, to spend months at a time laboring away at products they would never be able to enjoy.… Read the rest here

The Factory of Man Himself

With the reshaping of a nation into something never before seen on earth, Russia in the early twentieth century was asking its people to become something utterly unique. The Russian people were tasked with transforming their nation into the world’s largest communist state, and that task came with the responsibility of becoming citizens capable of making fundamental changes to their lives to allow the system to prosper.  With a population of a quarter million growing over the span of three years, the development and growth of Magnitostroi was dependent on the wrangling of vocational school graduates, urbanites, even decommissioned military regiments.… Read the rest here

O-90: Can the maternal bond be broken?

We, a dystopian novel written by Yevgeny Zamyatin in the 1920s, explores the trials and tribulations of a cipher, named D-503. D-503 tells the story through journal entries (known as ‘records’), which he intends to have sent up on the Integral, a spaceship being built and scheduled to launch in the near future.

Schedules appear to dominate the ciphers: they are assigned times to walk, have sex, appear in auditoriums. It seems that nothing is done without the instruction of a higher power.… Read the rest here

Terror and Surveillance

“Surveillance means that the population is watched; terror means that its members are subject on an unpredictable but large-scale basis to arrest, execution, and other forms of state violence.”1 This is the theme of Chapter 8 of Sheila Fitzpatrick’s Everyday Stalinism, in which the modes of Soviet public repression and purging are explored in detail.

The development of the Communist “Great Purges” in the 1930s was a self-propelling loop of suspicion, witch-hunts, and above all else, terror.… Read the rest here

Public Works

The chapter “Public Works” from Schivelbusch’s Three New Deals covers the transformation of undeveloped land through industrial means as a form of social mobilization. It is first explained that all major powers looked to the Soviet Union’s collectivism for inspiration. Prior to the Great Depression, Western countries perceived the Soviet agenda as “fantasy”- but as capitalism failed those countries leading up the the 1930s, they began to imitate Soviet policies.1

Fascism in Italy was the first to take the reigns on this matter through the project of the Agro Pontino.… Read the rest here